We are on the our way home from our trip to ISTE 2018 in Chicago and the conference did not disappoint!
ISTE18 provided tons of great sessions and opportunities to see new and existing products in the Expo hall.
A lot of well known presenters shared tons of great tips, tools, and techniques to use with students. Presenters included Kasey Bell of Shake Up Learning, Eric Curts of Control Alt Achieve, Matt Miller of Ditch That Textbook, and Vicki Davis of Cool Cat Teacher.
Also presenting were tons of administrators, Edtech coaches, and teachers sharing years of experience and knowledge. Of these were two unknown guys named Jerry Broyles and Dave Carty.
Though we are both veteran presenters at local and Kentucky state conferences, this was our first time presenting at ISTE. Our presentation was selected as a People’s Choice session and we had a great turn out and lots of questions. So many we didn’t have time to answer them all.
Chromebook Questions from ISTE 2018
As promised we have gone through all of the questions and posted our answers below. You can also see all of the videos and slides from our “I’m a Chromebook, I’m A PC” session at this link.
If you have anything to add or have another question feel free to respond in the comments below. I do moderate the comments for spam and language, but other than that your comment will be approved.
For those who attended our session at ISTE, KySTE, or IFL, thank you so much! We had a great time putting it together and presenting and the feedback has been very positive. You’ve left us pondering what to present next!
What are some add-ons that can support math?
From Andrew B.
EquatIO is an extension that can be used to help teachers and students write equations and symbols in math digitally. One of its best features is that you can use the speech to text feature which allows kiddos and teachers to read the equation out loud and EquatIO will type it out for you!
Google Docs also has an INSERT > EQUATION feature that is handy
The Desmos Graphing Calculator extension is a great tool for your students to use and to integrate in your class. Don’t forget to use www.desmos.com in your math classroom. It is a game changer, but would also be its own hour-long session!
Aside from WeVideo, what do you recommend for video editing on Chromebooks especially green screening?
Video editing seems to be the Chromebook’s Achilles Heel. We are still hoping to see Google come out with a nice solution for this. WeVideorocks it, but costs about $200 per 30 kids per year.
When it comes to video, we often revert back to a PC (plus 1 for PC!) or an iOS device such as an iPad. Apple is a killer in the video arena! Personally, my favorite is to use Camtasiaon a PC. Windows Live Movie Maker is still around and can be downloaded for free on PCs too.
What does your District do to support students with complex special education needs (i.e., requiring adaptive peripherals like an adaptive keyboard, or accessibility switches). Do you have any specific apps that work with these devices for these students?
From April T.
I have not tested any peripherals like you mentioned with Chromebooks. If anyone has a recommendation please share in the comments below. Read & Write for Google Chrome is a popular extension for special education and struggling readers. Google Docs built-in dictation features are really good. For students with dyslexia you can change the font and background color on web pages using an extension like Dyslexia Reader Chrome.
What green screen/lighting do you use for the videos?
Ha! Any kind of lighting that we could get our hands on! We used 4 very large green screens for our videos (2 on the wall, 2 on the floor) and a couple of smaller ones to cover gaps in the floor. One was used near the front of the camera (think keystone effect) and one o cover up the yoga mat for when PC decided to crash on the floor in a few videos. 🙂
We used about 5 LED lights on tripod stands. We borrowed these from our district’s cable TV platform. You can purchase the same kind of lights at Lowe’s or Home Depot…just look for “work lights.” You might be able to borrow some of these from staff or parents as well. Be sure to get enough to light up your background (green screens) so that you can color match them well later when editing.
You can see what the green screen area looked like in our bloopers video on our presentation page.
Any tips and tricks for music production with Chromebooks?
From Albert H.
Are there free apps available to enhance the teaching of music?
What do you use to help monitor student use on the Chromebooks? Hapara? GoGuardian? something else?
From Sarah G.
Our school system as recently begun using Securly. Their Chromebook filtering and reporting is offered for free. They have a parent portal and support for other devices as part of their subscription product.
You can learn more here: https://www.securly.com/webfiltering/securly-free
Which interactive flat panels do you use? How do they work with Chromebooks? What whiteboarding software do you use?
From Andrea B.
You mentioned IFP’s with a computer mounted behind it. Can you elaborate on this? An specific brands or models?
Recently, we have been purchasing ViewSonic IFPs interfacing with a Windows 10 PC interconnected to the back. You can easily connect your Chromebook via HDMI cable to the IFP and have it mirror the Chromebook. We have ViewBoard 2.1 installed on several IFPs and it does a nice job for the tools that we need to present.
We have moved away from the projector & Smart Board/screen model and started buying Interactive Flat Panels (IFPs) for our classrooms. The are more expensive, but not by much once you factor in the screen, projector, mounting hardware and cables needed for the traditional setup.
We learned though renovations and new constructions that it was impossible to always place the teacher computer and the projection screen or Smart Board in the optimal place in every classroom. One reason for this is, classroom layouts are constantly changing. The type of furniture, number of students, and teaching preferences also have a huge impact.
Our IFPs have built in PCs running Windows 10 and connect to our network wirelessly. The only cable is a power cable and the IFPs are mounted to sturdy carts which allows the teacher to move the IFP anywhere in the classroom whenever they want. Most our our IFPs are between 65”-70”. Some smaller resource and conference rooms have 55” models. They are all made by ViewSonic.
Besides room placement, the mobility of the IFPs allow for a variety of other configuration options. For example, we could move 30 of them to the gym or cafeteria for science fair presentations or other events. Each IFP supports touch and we also purchased a wireless keyboard/touchpad combo for each IFP link this one so the teacher can move around the room. Many teachers project their Chromebook or laptop screen to the IFP using Google Cast for Education. Students also present using Google Cast for Education.
You can learn more about the Viewsonic IFPs here: https://www.viewsonic.com/us/commercial-displays/shop/interactive-touch-displays.html
How do you deal with internet slowdowns? How do your Chromebooks work when internet access is slow/off/spotty.
What happens when there’s no internet? Can Chromebook still work?
From Andrew B.
Yes, Chromebooks do work offline. We have all of our students set up their Chromebooks so that their Google Drive is available offline. Students can create and modify existing Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides while their are offline. New files and changes will sync back to the cloud automatically once they can access the Internet again.
You can learn more here: https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/3214688?hl=en#
Of course, this all depends on what you are doing on the devices, but I am going with the notion that connectivity is so poor that the lesson has come to a grinding halt. I usually give about 5 minutes of classroom time to recover from the initial drop in connectivity.
If there is no recovery, then I abandon ship just like pirates in old Sinbad movies would do! Report the problem to IT support, and move on to your back-up lesson plan. Don’t waste any more classroom time and be hopeful to pick up where you left off on another day.
I need to capture YouTube videos to save as mp4. Vdownloader will not work on a Chromebook, is there a decent product to get from the webstore?
Yup, haven’t found a YouTube downloader app or extension that works with Chromebooks…there is probably a conflict of interest there on the Google side. 🙂
However, on the PC side of the world, I have found the YouTube Downloader program by Kotato.com to be dependable and inexpensive. I think I paid $30 about 5 years ago and it just keeps plugging along. It needs to be updated fairly often (just soooo PC-like!) but it does a good job. Be sure to be careful of copyright laws…
Suggestions for working with teachers that are upset about Chromebooks because they are use to Microsoft programs and the cloud version of Microsoft (Word/Excel/etc) is not as robust as the client version.
From Megan H.
Hmmm…great question. For me, instructional design must be efficient and EASY to accomplish my goals in the classroom. I don’t want to dis our Microsoft friends too much, but G Suite has accomplished this by making their suite of apps easy to use and to interface with one another. I would have your teachers attend a Google Classroom PD and have them experience instruction from the student perspective before showing them the teacher end of Classroom. Classroom is a Game Changer as it allows teachers to easily deploy, to grade, and to organize student work. This product alone can change teachers’ outlook!
But Megan, there is more! There is still a place for the full-blown, desktop, hard drive-using, versions of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. If I need to do some serious work or creation of content, I turn to the MS Office products to do that (think APA-style research papers with Word or image creation with PowerPoint). This fits into the “Chromebooks can do 95% of what students and teachers need from a device in school” rule. There is definitely a place for “prime-time” loving apps such as the MS Office apps, but we know that most students and teachers do not need or use all of their robust features. Sometimes all of those extra features just clog up the flow of learning, right? Good luck and you can do it!
Recommended Chromebook brand/version, etc?
Most recently we have been purchasing the Lenovo 100e and the HP G6 Chromebooks. We have been happy with both of them. They both use USB-C for charging.
How do Chromebooks work with Smartboards?
From Karen D.
Well, a Chromebook definitely can’t be the primary device to run the Smartboard software since you can’t install programs on it. You will still need a PC to run the Smartboard software and Notebook. However, a Chromebook can still be connected to a projector through a wired connection or wirelessly.
We like to use the Google extension Google Cast for Education with our students. It allows students to wirelessly connect to the presentation PC and show what is on their screen in real time. Only takes a couple of minutes to setup and then any child can present in just about 30 seconds. BTW…the teacher maintains control of the display the entire time. 🙂 If you have a subscription to Smart Learning Suite, your students can interact with their Chromebooks. For example, you can push out a lesson to each of their devices. They can also use Smart Amp and Smart Response to be a collaborative part of your Notebook slides.
What products do they usually use at the higher ed level nationally? I’m concerned with students not knowing how to use the Microsoft Office suites as they operate slightly differently than Google Docs.
From Jules D.
I’m sure there are tons of different opinions on this, but here’s mine. Anyone is welcome to give their own opinion in the comments below. I’ve never had a problem in which a student or teacher who was familiar with Microsoft Office products could not use a similar G Suite product. Why do many people think the reverse would be any different?
I’ve also heard many times that students need to know Office because that’s what is used in business. One, as I mentioned, I think the transition from one to the other isn’t difficult. Two, I don’t think this business statement is true any more. Tons of companies use Microsoft Office, but many use G Suite for Business too.
As far as higher education, in many cases it’s the end result or end product that matters. You can save a Google Doc as a Word Doc if necessary. You can also save a Doc as a PDF.
More concerning to me is that so many schools have stopped teaching typing skills to students. That’s a needed skill regardless of which platform you use. My hope is that as 1:1 Chromebook initiatives increase more and more students will become more efficient at typing with all of their fingers and not just their thumbs.
Is the school provide the Chromebook？or student brought it themselves?
From May L.
We do support BYOD in our district, but most of our schools are using their technology funds to purchase Chromebooks for their students. Some of our schools are 1:1 in some or all grades. Others have carts or classroom sets available.
I’ve been teaching for 23 years and it is interesting to see how schools can find funding for various initiatives. Have they spent their monies on game-changing classroom initiatives that are research-based. Nope, not so much. Usually monies are spent on packaged products that help teachers curate content, but that do not help students with the 4Cs per se.
Here are my top 3 research-based products to purchase for students engagement and learning:
- High quality, bright projection of content. Kids have GOT TO SEE the content! If you have dim or just plain bad projection in classrooms, take care of it. This is not negotiable.
- Audio enhancement software. Check out the research. You would be amazed at how many of our students struggle because they can’t hear the teacher. Same for viewing content (see above).
- Chromebooks…yep, start with a classroom or a grade-level with high quality, “chomping at the bit” techy teachers. Choose teachers who love to share what they do. The adventure will go viral in your school!
Novice Question: how do you unzip files on a Chromebook?
Love the question, but haven’t tried it. Here is an article from a trusted source that will walk you through the process.
Can you do presentations from Chromebooks?
From Margaret F.
Absolutely! You can physically connect your Chromebook to a projector or TV to present. Chromebooks support mirrored or extended desktops meaning you can show the same image on both screens or having two different screens. I wrote a blog post called How To Keep Your Chromebook Awake; Disable Sleep that shows how to make sure your Chromebook does not go to sleep when presenting.
There are also many options to remotely present if you need to go that route.
If a PC hard drive gets crypto-locked, including the Google Drive sync folder, can you use version history in Google Drive to restore the original unencrypted files and folders?
Yes, you can access previous versions of G Suite files like Docs, Sheets, and Slides. You can also access previous versions of non G Suite files up to 30 days back. In a worse case situation, if your school or organization has enabled Vault, your admin could recover files from a specific date.
We use Papercut as our intermediary for cloud printing. It works pretty well and addressed our cloud printing issues. Do you recommend any other cloud printing services?
From Dammon C.
We don’t support printing from our Chromebooks except in specific circumstances. We too use Papercut to monitor printing from other devices.
Your session focused on school/district-wide adoption of Chromebooks. What’s your opinion Chromebook vs PC for an individual who wants to buy a ‘home’ computer?
Great question. Personally I think a Chromebook is perfect for a home computer. In fact, I have Chromebooks in our home. My wife uses it for Internet searching, PTA newsletters and flyers, email, etc… I even did our taxes on the Chromebook last year. If you need to print, there are a few different options, but the easiest is probably to get a printer that supports Google Cloud Print. I know HP has models that support it.
The off to ready speed of a Chromebook makes it a great go to device when you are short on time. My kids use Chromebooks at home as well.
Well, here is the irony. My kids are little older than Dave’s kiddos and they often write APA-style papers and create digital projects that involve video-editing and digital art design. Not incredibly involved projects, but rigorous enough to frustrate them on a Chromebook. So, we have a home computer with different profiles created for the kids which they use as needed. I will say though, that I often see my high school and college-aged sons use their iPhone to complete many of their assignments (Apple gets 1 point). 🙂
If you have anything to add please do so in the comments below. ISTE 2018 was great and we got to meet and learn from so many Edtech leaders! Hope to meet many more at ISTE 2019 in Philadelphia!
Thanks for reading and sharing!